With winter on the way, you want to be sure you have the right type of heater for your home. Here we consider the different types of heaters on the market and what areas they are best suited to heating.
The first distinction to be made when classifying home heaters is between central heating and room (space) heaters. Central heating is designed to heat the whole house, as opposed to space/room heating which heats up only the room that’s in use. Most central heaters use a gas heater or heat pump to distribute heat throughout the house via the pipes or ducts in the ceiling or under the floor. This type of heater warms up the house using the convective heat transfer method: hot air from the ducts rises, displacing cooler air towards the heater which is then warmed in turn. The heat source is usually a gas heater or a heat pump/reverse cycle air conditioner. Boiler systems meanwhile, circulate hot water through the pipes in your house providing convective (again) as well as radiant heat, ie they heat whatever is in front of them, they don’t rely on air transfer. Boiler systems are usually gas powered but can also utilize solar electricity or a wood fire system.
Another type of central heating system is radiant floor heating in which the specially designed (usually concrete) floors of your house store heat from the pipes or electric cables set in the slab of the house and warm the rooms above using convective and radiant heating.
When it comes to space heating, gas heaters are the most common option, which is great since they produce only a fraction of the greenhouse emissions produced by electric heaters. They are usually used to heat your main living areas. They can rely on convection or radiant heating (or a combination of the two), can be fixed or portable, and flued or unflued. A flued gas heater vents pollutants and water vapor to the outside of the house using a vent or ‘flue’; an unflued gas heater doesn’t do this – which is why when using the latter you must ensure that there is adequate ventilation; keep your windows and doors slightly ajar with an unflued gas fan.
Electric space heaters whether fixed or portable also come in a range of options. Reverse cycle air conditioners or heat pumps are the most energy efficient, these are the type of heaters that are mounted up on the wall and double up as an air conditioner during summer. Electric column and flat panel heaters use a mixture of convective and radiant heating and are best suited to providing background heating in larger rooms, though they are often slow to heat up the room. Radiant electric heaters provide instant heat to small spaces, they are ideal for using in the bathroom when you get out of the shower. Radiant lamp heaters or heat lamps are another good option for the bathroom, providing heat quickly and for a short period. They work rather like an incandescent lamp. Often they have a timer that turns them off automatically after a few minutes, saving you power for when it is needed most. Fan heaters heat the air and generate convective heat transfer, again they are best suited to quickly warming smaller spaces and for a short period of time.
And finally, we have wood heaters such as an open fireplace or slow combustion heaters (much more efficient).
These are the main type of home heaters out there on the market, be sure to buy the one that’s most suitable for your property. Happy shopping!